Gwyneth Paltrow 4-Film Collection
Gwyneth Paltrow is the actress a lot of people love to hate. The daughter of Hollywood royalty on both sides, she grew up living, eating and breathing "the Industry." Snark shacks like Gawker love to dis her for her silver-spoon upbringing, her perfect good looks and her seemingly effortless career path.
A lot of this is sour grapes, of course. While it’s doubtful that Paltrow ever had to wait tables to pay the rent, let alone go dumpster diving for food, it’s as silly to hold her upbringing against her as it would be to admire the acting of, say, Ava Gardner more because she was a sharecropper’s daughter. I don’t remember anyone trashing Grace Kelley or Dina Merrill for their ultra-patrician roots.
As "Gwyneth Paltrow 4 Film Collection" demonstrates, she actually does have a range. Under those placidly beautiful features is an intelligent actress.
The collection appears to be mainly a "Greatest Hits" of Paltrow’s work with Miramax, the studio that was headed by the Brothers Weinstein. This is as it should be, since the producers gave her her big break by starring her in "Shakespeare in Love."
That film is included here and is the one with which most people will be acquainted. Since its win for the best-picture Oscar, this historic comedy-romance has been dogged by criticism that "Saving Private Ryan" (also up that year) was the superior film. The Weinsteins’ famously thorough Oscar campaign and the latter film’s bloodiness tipped the scales to the more "genteel" fantasy about the Bard.
Personally, I agree that, yes, the film is overrated and its views of Shakespeare are simplistic in the extreme. But it’s still a hell of a lot of fun, its costumes and sets are jaw-droppingly gorgeous (fitting the time), and it’s ultimately affecting.
Today, it’s the acting that especially stands out. Judi Dench, not surprisingly, steals every scene she’s in; Joseph Fiennes was the thinking gal’s stud-poet; Ben Affleck gave what is probably his best performance; and Geoffrey Rush gave another graduate seminar in film acting.
It was Paltrow, though, who really proved herself, with a wonderfully nuanced performance of a woman constricted by the times, her class, and ultimately by her own intelligence. Whether or not the film deserved Best Picture, criticizing her own Best Actress Oscar was, and is, out of bounds.
Paltrow was paired with Affleck in a drama, "Bounce," also here. How you feel about this film will be influenced by how much you like High Concept romances with a lot of New Age blather mixed in for "heft."